Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Year of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

As 2010 comes to a close, I've completed my list of best short stories appearing in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (AHMM). As with my subscription to EQMM, this year I managed to read every single short story. There were so many great stories that it was difficult to narrow it down to just a few favorites. However, if you don't have the time to read them all, consider these great short stories for your reading pleasure:

January/February 2010: "The Case of the Vanishing Boy: A Spade/Paladin Conundrum" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Runners-up: "Midnight" by K. J. Egan and "Okiku and the Nine Plates" by Alan Gratz

March: "Burning Twilight" by Kenneth Wishnia
Runners-up: "In It Up To My Neck" by Jas. R. Petrin and "Don't Reveal the Beginning" by John H. Dirckx

April: "Thief in the House" by Brendan DuBois
Runner-up: "As the Screw Turns" by Shelley Costa

May: "True Test" by B. K. Stevens
Runners-up: "Drive-Thru" by David Dietrich and "Somewhere Elsie" by Neil Schofield. I also enjoyed the previously published "Domestic Drama" by Lynn K. Kilpatrick

June: "Madame Selina" by Janice Law
Runners-up: "Ring Toss" by Chris Grabenstein and "Hard as a Rock" by Marianne Wilski Strong.

July/August: "Sundown, 290 West" by David Dietrich gave me the shivers.
Runners-up: "When the Apricots Bloom" by Ellen Larson, "No Trouble at All" by Doug Grant Johnson, and "What People Leave Behind" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. The Black Orchid Novella Award winner "Stranglehold" by Steve Liskow was a good read as well.

September: "The Little Nogai Boy" by R. T. Lawton
Runners-up: "Grit" by John H. Dirckx and "Winning Ticket" by Christine Matthews. I enjoyed the Mystery Classic story this month featuring "The Edge" by Dame Agatha Christie, also.

October: "Monsieur Alice is Absent" by Stephen Ross
Runners-up: "Old Dogs" by Naomi Bell and "Winter" by Chris Muessig

November: "Shell Game" by Neil Schofield
Second place: "Ten Thousand Cold Nights" by James Lincoln Warren
Runners-up: "Recommended to Mercy" by Eric Rutter, "A Good Man" by Cathryn Grant, and "The Lamb was Sure to Go" by Gar Anthony Haywood

December: "My Heart's Abhorrence" by Marianne Wilski Strong
Runners-up: "A Photo's Worth" by David Hagerty and "Love and Death" by Michael Z. Lewin.

So there you have it, my list of the best of the best for 2010. Enjoy and have a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Book Review: Vanishing Girl by Shane Peacock

✰✰✰✰½ This is the third installment in a YA series featuring Sherlock Holmes as a teen. "Vanishing Girl" follows Holmes on a quest to solve the case of missing socialite, Victoria Rathbone, before Scotland Yard or his arch enemy Malefactor can find her. The young lad is discouraged when at first it seems that Scotland Yard has bested him, but then he notices and overlooked detail in the ransom note. Perhaps it is a clue? Holmes decides to follow up on it even though it may be a long shot. When Victoria appears to have been kidnapped a second time, Holmes is hot on the trail. Will he win the fame he so covets? The ending may surprise you.

This is an excellent mystery with lots of twists and turns. The relationships between Holmes, Irene Doyle, Malefactor and the young Lestrade deserve mentioning. Their interactions are filled with rivalry and teenage angst which young adults can relate to. Also, this mystery takes place during a dark period in the young man's life, his mother having recently died. We find Holmes living at Sigerson Bell's apothecary. The eccentric Bell is both a mentor and father figure to the young lad which adds to the development of Holmes’ character.

The Bottom Line:
This is a fast paced mystery with lots of adventure and thrills. It is not necessary to have read the books in order. Background information is readily supplied so you can start with any book in the series. This clever book is great fun to read. I'm looking forward to reading the others, and I hope to find them under the tree this Christmas. Highly recommended for mystery fans of all ages, but especially for young adults ages 13 and up

Vanishing Girl by Shane Peacock. Published by Tundra Books in 2010. 335p. ISBN: 978-1-77049-234-9

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Book Review: The Great Reindeer Rebellion by Lisa Trumbauer

✰✰✰✰½ Christmas is coming, and Santa is frantic. The reindeer have just gone on strike! What's Santa to do? How will he deliver his toys to all the good little girls and boys? It's simple. Santa decides to write a help wanted ad. The response is overwhelming as all the animals line up for their chance to pull the famous sleigh. Who will make the cut? The dogs? The cats? The elephants? It's an all-out competition as the animals all try to do their best.

The Bottom Line:
The little ones will adore this whimsical and lyrical holiday poem. The colorful artwork in a raised embossed style is sure to please both kids and adults alike. Highly recommended holiday reading for kids ages 4 - 8.

The Great Reindeer Rebellion by Lisa Trumbauer. Illustrated by Jannie Ho. Hardcover published by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. in 2009. 28 pages. ISBN: 978-1-4027-4462-4